Tarkett Australia was able to eliminate material wastage while addressing the client’s budget and time constraints during the flooring installation at a Western Australian children’s medical research facility in Perth.

Designed by Woods Bagot and built by Multiplex, the new home of Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) at the Perth Children’s Hospital features world-class equipment and facilities to assist research into causes and treatments for childhood illness.

The architects’ design vision for TKI was inspired by different parts of the human body, with the design team comparing spatial relationships of the facility to that of human biology systems, explained Woods Bagot workplace design leader, Stirling Fletcher.

“The flooring design was a key component of these spatial ideas, as the canvas upon which to create aesthetics aligned to the biological symbols and patterns,” he said.

For the open-plan workspace, the designers chose a repetitive three-dimensional flooring pattern to mimic the process of cellular growth through duplication and division.

Multiplex and its contracted Perth-based commercial flooring specialist, Floorwise were tasked with the installation. However, upon examination of the proposed carpet tile specifications, Floorwise director Peter Vodicka noticed that the suggested flooring tile was not a suitable choice for meeting the architect’s design intent, budget and build program. The initially specified 500mm x 500mm tile was not suitable because only a diamond shape could achieve the intended visual effect and also make it convincingly 3D.

Going with the existing specifications would have required two standard tiles to make one diamond shape, resulting in a huge amount of wastage. The manual cutting onsite would also have slowed the installation down and cost a lot more in labour.

“At that point they were either going to have to pay a lot more to complete the design or do something less complex,” Vodicka said.

With considerable experience in design and construction projects, especially in inventing solutions for challenging situations, Floorwise turned to Tarkett business development manager, Hazel Derrett with an unorthodox idea.

“Focusing on the need for the tiles to be diamond shaped, we sought a supplier who might be able to pre-cut them for us,” he said. “We asked Tarkett’s Hazel Derrett to liaise with DESSO’s factory in the Netherlands and they said they’d be willing to give it a go.

“A solution was proposed that would utilise the entire width of the manufactured product. Normally with squares, the width is used up in a half metre tile but DESSO makes a carpet cloth two metres wide, which is then backed and cut.

“The diamond shapes were originally set up to go in a different direction, but we realised that by adjusting it to be almost like a herringbone, or chevron, running across and creating two different directions – one going down and an angle coming up – we would have no wastage. I think the original allowance for wastage was 18 percent and we got that down to zero,” Vodicka explained.

Tarkett’s in-house designers then created a cutting plan for the new design, using software programs such as AutoCAD, Revit and Photoshop to help the client visualise the finished product.

“Our teams worked together to finesse the cutting plan and ensure it met the DESSO factory’s capabilities,” said Tarkett technical marketing & sustainability manager, Reza Karani. “The process was a real demonstration of how we can take a standard product and customise it to be something truly unique. Our DESSO factory even custom-made diamond-shaped boxes for space-efficient and safe transportation of the precision-cut tiles, which was a neat little touch.”

Once the cutting plan was finalised, samples were made and presented to Woods Bagot and Multiplex.

Over 5000 DESSO Fields textured carpet tiles were specified along with DESSO Tweed B529. With its enlarged and irregular loops, DESSO Fields tiles give the impression of being handwoven.

DESSO Fields carpet tiles covered approximately 5000 square metres of TKI’s flooring. Additionally, nearly 2000 square metres of Tarkett Safetread heterogeneous vinyl sheets with enhanced slip resistance were specified for heavy traffic areas such as corridors and laboratories.

Tarkett also worked with Floorwise on the design of an installation plan to avoid any shading implications potentially stemming from the modified cutting plan.

“We walked through the design rationale and implementation, and created an installation strategy that would provide a uniform visual outcome,” said Derrett. “If the carpet tiles aren’t installed with uniform shading in the pile direction, then you will see that one tile has a different shade than the one next to it and it won’t be seamless.

“We labelled all the tiles on the back, in sequence – such as A- or a B-shading for a line. It meant the Floorwise installers knew exactly what to do and greatly streamlined the process. Due to the floor pattern complexity, it took longer than a standard job. But because of the labelling system it was relatively swift for the installers.”

According to Vodicka, this couldn’t have been possible if the tiles were hand-cut. “You’re never going to get a job like that right – cutting diamond shapes by hand – because of the human element. Not even on a smaller job of, say, 100 square metres – let alone the 5000-odd square metres for TKI,” he said.

“The other issue with hand-cutting is that with more pieces you have more potential for edge-fray and those cuts are more noticeable if the pile is matched incorrectly.”

However, since the tiles were machine-cut in the TKI installation, they were perfect.

Following the completion of the job, Vodicka estimated that 30 percent less material had been used than what they would have needed with the original cutting plan. They were additionally able to reduce labour time by 50 percent.

He also believes that the TKI flooring installation where the carpet tiles were cut to suit the design may be a world-first.